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Lesbian sues police for not believing her rape accusation because she was “with a man”

A woman who is sad from abuse
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A lesbian student is suing a sheriff’s office in Wyoming after she felt pressured to recant a rape accusation, saying that officers told her “it must be weird being with a man” because of her sexual orientation.

Federal district court Judge Alan Johnson is allowing a civil rights lawsuit filed by a former University of Wyoming student against the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to go forward. The student accuses officers of denying her rights because of “her sex, sexual orientation or sexual identity.”

Related: Man who allegedly raped & burned a lesbian couple alive claims he was their ‘friend’

The complaint says that student was raped in 2017 and reported it to the sheriff’s office. Police are then supposed to investigate a case and decide whether there is enough evidence to move forward, but the student said that two officers instead told her that her allegation was a lie.

Deputy Aaron Gallegos and Sgt. Christian Handley conducted a recorded interview with the accuser in February 2017 that was part of the investigation, where the student felt that she was being “cross-examined.”

The officers told the student that the man she said raped her was a “good guy” and that his life shouldn’t be ruined.

“This could potentially ruin him for 20 years down the line, be a sex offender for the rest of his life,” Gallegos said. “Would you want that to happen, spend 20 years in prison for an alleged rape when it was consensual, it was weird, it happened, but he didn’t rape you?”

Handley said that he was “curious as to how it wasn’t consensual” because the student said that she had had consensual sex with the alleged rapist the night before the rape.

The student responded that alleged rapist held down her arms, and Handley asked, “In a manner that was consistent with intercouse or a manner that’s consistent with somebody raping you and forcible having sex with you?”

The officers suggested in the 23-minute interview that she only thought she was raped because she’s a lesbian.

The student said that she felt like she was being accused of wrong-doing and pressured into recanting or else she would face prosecution.

“So here’s what’s gonna happen… I’m not gonna tell anybody,” Gallegos told the student. “Nobody would find out about any of this.”

Handley then told her that she will not face charges for false reporting.

“I felt like the perpetrator,” the student told Wyoming Public Media.

The lawsuit said that previous interactions with the officers were generally friendly, but this interview was different.

“Their tactics became abusive as they decided on their own version of events and ‘told’ her what happened, instead of listening to her,” the lawsuit states.

Charges were not pressed against the alleged rapist, and this past February the student filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office and the two individual officers. Judge Johnson removed the two officers as defendants, citing “qualified immunity,” the idea that government officials can’t be sued for most choices they make while working.

The defendants asked the judge to throw out the lawsuit entirely, though, but he did not.

“Handley appears to believe if sexual activity is consensual at night, it is automatically consensual in the morning. He is wrong,” the judge wrote in his decision that allowed the suit to go forward. He also wrote that the transcript shows that the sheriff’s office “may treat lesbian women claiming sexual assault differently from straight women claiming sexual assault.”

“It is not only plausible, but clear Defendants failed to adequately respond to this sexual assault allegation, at least in part, due to sex-based stereotypes,” the judge wrote. “It is inconceivable [the two officers] would tell a straight woman that it must be weird being with a man.”

Attorneys for the defendants said that the officers were appropriately sympathetic to the alleged victim if their statements are “read in the context of the entire interview.” The lawyers deny that there is “proof of Gallegos and Handley’s intentional discrimination against her.”

The case is moving forward and a pretrial conference is scheduled for later this month.

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